ASEAN health experts cite importance of regional cooperation to control dengue

By Zorayda S. Tecson

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, June 14 (PNA) –Health officials and experts from the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) converged here on Saturday for a regional forum that aims to strengthen collaboration in the fight against dengue.

With a theme “ASEAN Unity and Harmony: A Key to Combat Dengue,” the two-day event will tackle the latest information, expert opinion, challenges and issues surrounding dengue, one of the world’s fastest-emerging infections.

“Your presence is a testament of your strong commitment in a continuous fight against dengue,” assistant secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) Gerardo Bayugo said.

Bayugo cited the importance of regional cooperation to manage and control dengue.

“Together in unity, it is possible to achieve our common goal to control dengue,” he said.

>Likewise, DOH undersecretary Nemesio Gako said that this year’s theme is very appropriate as unity and cooperation is essential to fight this infectious disease.

“Our differences, do not constraint our fight against dengue. This annual gathering fortifies our efforts in combatting the disease. Together, we can fight dengue,” Gako said.

At the start of the forum,Dr. Rose Nani Mudin from Malaysia discussed topics about the regional epidemiology and virus surveillance network dubbed as UNITEDengue which was founded by the Ministry of Health Malaysia and the Singapore National Environment Agency’s Environmental Health Institute in 2012.

Mudin said the UNITEDengue, which is the acronym for United In Tackling Epidemic Dengue, is a network for cross border sharing of dengue surveillance information and knowledge on dengue control.

Aside from Malaysia and Singapore, other countries that joined the UNITEDengue are Brunei, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Thailand.

She asked other countries to join with the UNITEDengue to enhance the fight against dreaded disease.

Meanwhile, Prof. Donald Shepard of the Brandeis University tackled on the cost burden of dengue.

Shepard, in his presentation, said that the annual average of economic burden of dengue in Southeast Asia amounted to US $ 950 million.

In the Philippines, he said, dengue is one of the eight pervasive infectious diseases with an annual 118,080 reported cases between 2008 to 2012.

He also said that the Philippines is the fourth in dengue burden in Southeast Asia. (PNA)